Foster Parent Training & Requirements

UMFS offers unique training sessions and support groups so foster parents feel well-equipped and encouraged to provide a loving home for a child or teen.

Become a Foster ParentAttend an Info Session

Foster Parent Training & Requirements

UMFS offers unique training sessions and support groups so foster parents feel well-equipped and encouraged to provide a loving home for a child or teen.

At UMFS, we’re lucky to have placed so many caring foster parents with children and teens who have experienced challenges in the past. You may be the next person who can give these youth a hopeful future. 

But giving that hopeful future doesn’t happen simply by opening your door and offering an empty bed. Through a careful process of training parents and nurturing youth, UMFS’ foster care program helps children and teens heal and grow within a loving, caring family. 

As a UMFS foster parent, you will begin your journey by participating in all state-required foster care training. We then build on your foster parent education with unique skills development training. Plus, we provide access to a range of support groups to best support your situation.

Benefits of Being a Foster Parent

Help a Child or Teen in Need

Youth in foster care are in the system because their family can’t take care of them for a short time or long term. People like you can give them a chance to gain confidence before adulthood.

Experience Great Rewards

Though you may face challenges, you will likely feel uplifted and grateful when you see the positive impact you can have on a child’s life. You can both benefit from the experience.

Provide Lifelong Impact Care

No matter how long you serve as a foster parent, you have the opportunity to make a lifelong impact on a child or teen’s life and sometimes build a relationship beyond their time in your care.

Opportunity to Adopt

If the child or teen placed in your home has a goal for adoption, and you and your family form a special bond with them, you may begin the adoption process and provide a forever home.

Why Is Foster Parent Training So Important?

To be the best support possible for the child or teen in your care, UMFS provides initial and ongoing training. When you participate in this specialized training, you’ll grow in your understanding of your youth’s experience, gain skills to help him or her cope with challenges, and learn how to cultivate a home environment conducive to your youth’s growth.

A child or teen’s journey doesn’t stop when he or she is placed in a loving foster home; the journey toward a successful outcome has only just begun. UMFS’ ongoing foster parent training aims to help parents adjust to the ebbs and flows of this journey.

Foster Care Training Requirements & Opportunities

To become a foster parent with UMFS, the organization prepares and equips you for the position through an information session, then offers a series of training sessions for you while ensuring that you meet several additional prerequisites.

As the Virginia Department of Social Services emphasizes, initial training informs and educates parents. This training may help you fully assess whether you’re ready to care for a child or teen in the foster program. Ongoing training continues to provide education and skills training, as well as dedicated support.

Below are the types of foster care training that are required and/or available to you as a UMFS foster parent:

Introductory Information Session

This meeting will help you learn more about the children and teens who UMFS serves, and you will gain a deeper understanding of the foster care process.

At the information session, UMFS staff will present important information and answer questions. This is a great opportunity to clarify your responsibilities as a foster parent, learn more general information and find out what makes UMFS unique.

Pre-Service Training and Foster Parent Classes 

The pre-service foster care training curriculum, ImPACT (I’m Parenting All Children Therapeutically), is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of the foster care system, as well as the needs of the youth in the program. You will engage in skills development and learn about important resources which will help you prepare your home for a child or teen in foster care.

Parents must complete 25 hours of pre-service training. Later, when you participate in a home study, you can discuss lessons learned or lingering questions from your pre-service training. This is another opportunity to gain new insights and learn more.

During our training sessions and foster parent classes, we will cover topics such as:

  • Child welfare system
  • Permanency
  • Strengths-based thinking
  • Attachment
  • Grief and loss
  • Child and brain development
  • Discipline
  • Self-care
  • Policies and procedures

CPR & First Aid Training

Knowing how to perform basic first aid and CPR is essential for anyone working with children and teens. Becoming certified in CPR isn’t required by all local social services departments, but UMFS wants our foster parents to be equipped with all the skills necessary to fully care for a child or teen.

Foster parents have numerous opportunities to complete CPR and first aid training. You can choose from several options to keep your certifications current as your time as a foster parent continues.

Ongoing Foster Parent Training & Support

UMFS requires foster parents to complete 12 hours of ongoing training per year.

Plus, we provide numerous support groups, meetings, and one-on-one mentorship opportunities for foster parents to feel plugged into a network, guided along your journey, and connected to insightful resources that enhance your foster parent education.

Training meetings occur throughout the year. Support groups meet monthly, providing resources and information as well as emotional and mental support.

A Foster Care Success Story

Foster care combined with the UMFS Child & Family Healing Center (CFHC) helped LaQuita overcome the challenges of her past and move forward into a positive future.

Much of LaQuita’s youth was spent in constant motion, bouncing from foster home to group home to residential program, and back to foster home until she joined the Navy at 18. She had to overcome a lot to become the courageous person she is today, and UMFS played a large role in the transformation. 

By providing a foster home, you could make a difference in a child or teen’s life, so they don’t need to bounce around so many foster homes and centers. You can put an end to the chaos after a difficult start.

Foster Parent Education Principles At UMFS

At UMFS, pre-service foster parent training and ongoing training are rooted in four main principles:

  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • The Whole-Brain Child
  • Collaborative Problem Solving
  • High-Fidelity Wraparound Services

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is designed to help parents understand how trauma affects the brain and development. This training teaches parents how to build resilience after trauma.

During events such as the Trauma-Informed Care Panel, foster care alumni and social work experts speak to parents and provide anecdotal and professional perspectives. This insight helps foster parents understand what the children and teens in foster care have endured and how they can best support them.

The Whole-Brain Child

This is based on the book by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, which teaches parents about youth’s brain development. It also teaches parents how to help children and teens in foster care move beyond challenging situations. 

This involves accepting that we aren’t “stuck” in our circumstances and training our brains to move beyond difficult situations.

Collaborative Problem Solving

The principle focuses on teaching adults and youth how to manage conflict. Training is rooted in the belief that conflict management isn’t about “wanting” to do well; it’s about having the skills to do so. 

Collaborative problem solving teaches communication and problem-solving skills that help adults, children, and teens identify problems, respect others’ feelings, manage frustration, and work toward a resolution.

High-Fidelity Wraparound Services

This is a team-based approach to developing an individualized family care plan. Families work with professionals, and you will learn how to be your own advocate, identify your family’s needs, and connect to resources. The goal is to equip foster parents with the skills necessary to be as independent as possible in your foster care journey.

Interested In Becoming A Foster Parent?

Foster parenting is one of the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding roles you could have. It’s an opportunity to give children and teens love where before they felt neglected; to give them compassion where before they felt dismissed; to give them a hug where before they were abused.

As a foster parent, you can provide a true family to a child or teen who may have never had one.

How to Become a Foster Parent



Attend an Info Session

Learn more about the unique needs of youth in treatment foster care and the support you’ll receive so you can help them. 



Pre-Service Training

Complete 25 hours of required training to prepare your family to meet the needs of children and teens in care.



Home Study & Paperwork

UMFS conducts an assessment of a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing family environment for a child.

*The whole process typically takes about 4 months.

Foster Parent Training FAQ

What is foster care?

Foster care is when a child or teen goes to live with a foster family because their primary caregivers are unable to care for them. The parents may be unable to provide care due to anything from financial stress to drug abuse, and they may have been reported to child welfare.

Foster parents provide a safe, stable, temporary home for children in foster care in order to provide the best opportunity for the children to thrive. The foster family may have additional biological children of their own or additional children in foster care. The average length of time a child spends in foster care in the U.S. is 12 months. 

The goal for each child and teen in foster care varies. Whenever possible, the youth return to their primary caregivers. If returning home is not possible, the youth may be adopted or seek other foster care services. At 18 or 21, the youth ages out of the system and may seek other support systems to thrive as an adult. But many face homelessness and unemployment.


What foster care training, foster parent education, and support systems are available to foster care providers?

There are many systems in place to help you succeed as a foster parent:

  • Thirty hours of pre-licensing training and foster parent classes
  • Nine hours of post-licensing training
  • Local in-person and online support groups
  • 24-hour on-call support
  • Counseling
  • Reliable respite care so you can take a break and attend to your other needs
  • Financial assistance to cover all or most of the costs of adopting children from foster care and to fund their medical and mental health needs

Providers of Therapeutic or Treatment Foster Care (TFC) get additional foster parent training and support to meet the needs of children and teens with specific emotional, behavioral, psychological, or medical needs, possibly due to past trauma or abuse.

What are the requirements to become a foster parent?

Foster families come from all walks of life. They’re teachers, nurses, social workers, bookkeepers, chefs, and more. They are people who have realized that they have room in their homes, room in their schedules, and room in their hearts for a child in need.

Prospective foster parents need to meet these prerequisites to begin the foster parent process:

  • 21 or older
  • Stable form of income
  • Ability to pass a Child Protective Services and Criminal History Search
  • Valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Personal references
  • Physical space in your home
  • Emotional space in your life
  • Medical information

There are no specific religious requirements or restrictions to participation.

What is a typical child or teen in foster care like, and what have they been through?

Children and teens in foster care can be any age, from infant to 18. The average age of a child in foster care in the U.S. is eight. The youth in foster care represent all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are frequently part of a sibling group or teens.

When it comes to children who need therapeutic foster care, the child may have experienced financial hardship leading to malnutrition or suffered from neglect or abuse. The children may have mental health issues or may suffer from post-traumatic shock syndrome (PTSD) due to what they have experienced.

The UMFS foster care program does not accept children or teens who are currently at risk for harming themselves or others.

Can I adopt a child or teen through the foster system?

Yes, in Virginia, 70% of youth in foster care are adopted by their foster parents.

For more information on foster care in Virginia, contact us today!

UMFS has eight locations throughout the state of Virginia, spread conveniently across the Commonwealth. If you’re interested in learning what is involved to become a foster parent, we encourage you to send us an inquiry, or contact UMFS at any of these locations:

Get in Touch With UMFS Today